A camera and ultraviolet lamps were fixed to a stand on a...
â€˜Weâ€™re currently inside the pylon of a Temple of Amun,â€™ began Gaille, her voice echoing in the large chamber. â€˜It was completed under Ramesses II, but it fell into disrepair before being extensively rebuilt by the Ptolemies.â€™
â€˜And its connection with Amarna?â€™ prompted Lily.
â€˜Yes,â€™ blushed Gaille. â€˜Forgive me.â€™
â€˜No need for forgiveness. Youâ€™re a natural. The camera loves you.â€™
â€˜Thanks.â€™ Gaille smiled wryly, her scepticism clear. â€˜As you know, Egyptians typically built their monuments and temples with massive blocks of quarried stone, as with the pyramids. But cutting and transporting them was expensive and time-consuming, and Akhenaten was in a hurry. He wanted new temples to the Aten in Karnak and Amarna, and he wanted them now. So his engineers came up with a different type of brick, these talatat. They weigh about a hundred pounds each, light enough for a single construction worker to heave into place by himself, though it wouldnâ€™t have done much good for their backs. And after the walls were completed, theyâ€™d be carved and painted into grand scenes, like a huge television wall.â€™
â€˜So how did they get here?â€™
Gaille nodded. â€˜After Akhenaten died, his successors determined to destroy every trace of him and his heresy. Did you know that Tutankhamunâ€™s name was originally Tutankhaten. He was pressured into changing it after Akhenaten died. Names were incredibly important back then. The Ancient Egyptians believed that even saying someoneâ€™s name helped sustain them in the afterlife, one reason why Akhenatenâ€™s name was deliberately excised from temples and monuments across the land. But his talatat suffered a different fate. When his buildings were dismantled, the bricks were used as hard-core for building projects all across Egypt. So every time we excavate a post-Amarna site, thereâ€™s a chance weâ€™ll find some.â€™
â€˜And recreate the original scenes on Akhenatenâ€™s walls?â€™
â€˜Thatâ€™s the idea. But it isnâ€™t easy. Imagine buying a hundred jigsaw puzzles, jumbling all the pieces up together, then throwing away ninety per cent and bashing up the rest with a hammer. But making sense of such things is what I do. Itâ€™s why Fatima invited me down here. I usually work with ancient texts, but the principleâ€™s the same.â€™
â€˜How do you go about it?â€™
â€˜Itâ€™s easiest if I explain with scrolls. Imagine finding thousands of fragments from different documents all muddled up together. Your first task is to photograph them all to scale and at very high resolution, because the original fragments are simply too fragile to work with. You then examine each one more closely. Is the material papyrus or parchment? If papyrus, what weave? If parchment, from what animal? We can test the DNA these days, would you believe, to see if two fragments of parchment come from the same animal. What colour is it? How smooth? How thick? What does the reverse look like? How about the ink? Has it smudged or bled? Can we analyse its chemical signature? Is the nib thick or thin, regular or scratchy? And what about the handwriting? Scribal hands are very distinctive, though you have to be careful with that, because people often worked on more than one document, and some documents were written by more than one scribe. Anyway, all that should help you separate the initial jumble into different original scrolls; rather like separating the jigsaw pieces I mentioned earlier into their different puzzles. Your next task is to reassemble them.â€™
â€˜Often weâ€™re already familiar with the texts,â€™ answered Gaille. â€˜Like with the Book of the Dead, for instance. Then itâ€™s just a question of translating the fragments and seeing where they fit. But if itâ€™s an original document â€“ a letter, say â€“ then we look for other clues. Maybe a line of text that runs from one fragment to the next. If weâ€™re very lucky, multiple matching lines, putting it beyond doubt. More usually, however, weâ€™ll put similar themes together. Two fragments on burial practices, say. Or two episodes about a particular person. Failing that, fragments are, by definition, damaged. Is there a pattern of damage? Imagine rolling a sheet of paper into a scroll, burning a hole through all the layers with a cigarette, then ripping it up. The burn-holes wonâ€™t just help you reassemble the scroll, theyâ€™ll also tell you how tightly it was rolled in the first place, by the steadily decreasing distances between them. And scribes often scratched guidelines on their parchment to keep their writing level. We can match those scratches from one fragment to the next, by tiny variations in the gaps between them, like checking tree rings.â€™
â€˜And there are similar indications with talatat, are there?â€™
â€˜Yes,â€™ nodded Gaille. â€˜Though they tend to be more elusive. For example, talatat are made either from limestone or sandstone. Limestone talatat typically go with limestone; sandstone with sandstone. And the composition of the stone is useful, too, because walls were often built with stone from a single quarry. But you canâ€™t rely too heavily on that. Paint residue can also be helpful, as can weather-damage. Maybe the bricks have been sun-bleached. Or maybe there was a leaky pipe nearby, and theyâ€™ve got matching water stains. Anyway, once weâ€™ve done what we can, we try to reassemble them into scenes. Talatat are typically decorated either on their long side, which we call â€œstretchersâ€�, or on their short side, which we call â€œheadersâ€�. Egyptians used alternate courses of stretchers and headers. That really helps. After that, it often really is a case of putting heads on torsos. Fortunately, many of t a casmanhe scenes are duplicates of each other, or of scenes that have already been reconstructed from talatat found elsewhere, so we know what weâ€™re looking for.â€™
Lilyâ€™s ears pricked up. â€˜But not all?â€™ she asked shrewdly.
â€˜No,â€™ acknowledged Gaille. â€˜Not all.â€™
â€˜Youâ€™ve found something, havenâ€™t you? Thatâ€™s why you brought me down here.â€™
â€˜Well? Arenâ€™t you going to tell me?â€™
â€˜Oh,â€™ said Gaille, dropping her eyes. â€˜I think Fatima wants that pleasure for herself.â€™
Knox picked up one of the shrivelled ears. The tissue had a slight sheen to it where it had been severed from the body, suggesting the cut was recent. He checked the loculi, quickly found a mummy missing its right ear, then another. He frowned, baffled, before belatedly remembering he was on the clock. His self-imposed deadline had already passed. He needed to get out of here.
He hurried back to the atrium, up the steps, was about to rush away when he heard an engine, and suddenly the pick-up reappeared over the rise, its headlights sweeping the shaftâ€™s mouth like a lighthouse beam, so that Knox barely had time to duck out of sight and retreat back down to the atrium.
Griffin and his crew were storing everything in the catacombs, so he headed the other way instead, down the right-hand passage. He soon reached another chamber, a huge mosaic on its floor, tesserae bright from a recent clean, though rutted from ancient footfall. A grotesque figure sat naked in the lotus position inside a seven-pointed star surrounded by clusters of Greek letters. He took a photograph, then a second, before hearing a grunt from back along the corridor, someone struggling with a box â€“ and coming his way. He hurried deeper into the site, a confusion of passages and small chambers, the walls decorated with colourful ancient murals: a naked man and woman reaching up in supplication to the sun; Priapus leering from behind a tree; a crocodile, dog and vulture sitting in judgement; Dionysus stretching out on a divan, framed by vines and ivy leaves and pine cones. He was photographing this last one when he heard footsteps and turned to see Griffin approaching down the passage, squinting through the dappled gloom as though he needed glasses.
â€˜Reverend?â€™ he asked. â€˜Is that you?â€™
Inspector Naguib Hussein was writing out his report at the station when his boss Gamal came over. â€˜Donâ€™t you have a wife and daughter to get home to?â€™ he grunted.
â€˜I thought you wanted our paperwork up to date.â€™
â€˜I do,â€™ nodded Gamal. He perched on the corner of the desk. â€˜Word is, you found a body out in the Eastern Desert.â€™
â€˜Yes,â€™ agreed Naguib.
â€˜Her head was bashed in. She was wrapped in tarpaulin and buried beneath sand. Iâ€™d say murder was a possibility.â€™
â€˜A Copt, yes?â€™
â€˜Investigate, fine,â€™ scowled Gamal. â€˜But no waves. This isnâ€™t the time.â€™
â€˜How do you mean?â€™
â€˜You know how I mean.â€™
â€˜I assure you Iâ€”â€™
â€˜Havenâ€™t you learned yet when to speak and when to shut up?â€™ asked Gamal in exasperation. â€˜Donâ€™t you realize how much trouble you caused your colleagues up in Minya?â€™
â€˜They were selling arms on the black market.â€™
â€˜I donâ€™t care. There are crimes we can solve and crimes we canâ€™t. Letâ€™s deal with the ones we can, eh?â€™ He gave a companionable sigh, as though he didnâ€™t like the way things worked any more than Naguib did, he was just more realistic. â€˜Havenâ€™t you been following whatâ€™s going on down in Assiut?â€™ he asked. â€˜People out on the streets. Fights. Anger. Confrontation. Just for a couple of dead Coptic girls. I wonâ€™t risk that spreading here.â€™
â€˜She may have been murdered,â€™ observed Naguib.
Gamalâ€™s complexion was naturally dark. It grew darker. â€˜From what I understand, no one has reported her missing. From what I understand, she could have been there years, maybe even decades. You really want to provoke trouble at a time like this over a girl who may have been dead for decades?â€™
â€˜Since when has investigating murder been a provocative act?â€™
â€˜Donâ€™t play with me,â€™ scowled Gamal. â€˜Youâ€™re...
â€˜Is that an order?â€™
â€˜If it needs to be,â€™ nodded Gamal. â€˜If it needs to be.â€™
â€˜Reverend!â€™ said Griffin again. â€˜A word please.â€™
Knox turned sharply and hurried away along the corridor, glad that the gloom evidently made his white shirt look sufficiently like a dog collar against his dark polo neck to fool Griffin.
â€˜Reverend!â€™ cried Griffin in exasperation. â€˜Come back. We need to talk.â€™
Knox continued walking as fast as he dared. The passage straightened out, hit a dead end some twenty paces ahead. Just before that, there was a high heap of ancient bricks and plaster fragments and a gaping hole in the wall, through which he could hear Peterson reading from the Bible; though, from the accompanying hiss, it sounded more like an old recording than the real thing.
â€˜â€œAnd there came two angels to Sodom; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them.â€�â€™
Knox reached the hole, glanced through. There was a large chamber on the other side, young men and women kneeling on dustsheets cleaning the walls with sponges moistened with distilled water and soft-bristled brushes. The men had the standard crew-cuts, the women short-bobbed hair, and they were all wearing the same cornflower-blue and khaki livery. They were too intent on their work to notice him step through into the chamber. Only once inside did he see Peterson to his left, deep in earnest discussion with a young woman, while his voice incongruously continued to declaim scripture on the portable CD-player in the centre of the chamber.
â€˜â€œBehold now, I have two daug“2em” alihters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes.â€�â€™
Griffin was still approaching down the corridor. Knox had only one possible hiding place, the baptismal bath. His foot slipped as he hurried down the wide flight of stone steps so that he had to fight for balance, but he found the shadows even as Griffin poked his head in. â€˜Reverend!â€™ he said. Peterson gave no sign of having heard him, however, so he said it again, louder this time, until one of the young women turned the volume down on the CD-player. â€˜Why on earth did you walk away from me?â€™
Peterson frowned. â€˜What are you talking about, Brother Griffin?â€™
Griffin scowled but let it go. â€˜Weâ€™ve emptied the magazine,â€™ he said. â€˜Itâ€™s time to close up.â€™
â€˜Not yet,â€™ said Peterson.
â€˜Itâ€™s going to take hours to fill in the shaft,â€™ said Griffin. â€˜If we donâ€™t start now weâ€™ll never finish beforeâ€”â€™
â€˜I said not yet.â€™
â€˜Have you forgotten why weâ€™re here, Brother Griffin?â€™ blazed Peterson. â€˜Have you forgotten whose work weâ€™re doing?â€™
â€˜Then go back outside and wait. Iâ€™ll tell you when to start.â€™
Footsteps faded as he walked away. The young woman turned the volume back up.
â€˜â€œFor we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it.â€�â€™
Knox waited a few moments before risking a glance over the rim of the baptismal bath. Everyone was once more concentrating on cleaning their section of wall, bringing an array of scenes back to life: portraits, landscapes, angels, demons, texts in Greek and Aramaic, mathematical calculations, signs of the Zodiac and other symbols. Like a madmanâ€™s nightmare. He photographed the ceiling, two sections of wall, then Peterson and the woman examining a mural.
â€˜â€œThe sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.â€�â€™
â€˜Reverend, sir!â€™ said a young man. â€˜Look here!â€™
Knox ducked down, but not quite quickly enough. One of the women saw him as she turned. Her mouth fell open in shock. She pointed at him with a trembling finger and began to scream.
Meals with Fatima were notoriously frugal affairs usually, but tonight the table was laden with a colourful and fragrant spread of dishes in honour of Stafford and Lily: taâ€™amiyya, fuâ€™ul, hoummos, beans, tahina, a salad of chopped tomatoes and cucumber seasoned with oil and garlic, stuffed aubergines, chicken dressed in vine leaves, all looking succulent in the rippling candlelight. There were even two bottles of red wine, from which Stafford poured himself a liberal glass that he drained and immediately refilled. For all Gailleâ€™s dislike of him, she had to admit he was looking rather dashing, wearing a borrowed galabaya while his own clothes were being washed in readiness for the morning.
Lily was looking nervously at the food, as though apprehensive both of local etiquette and cuisine. Gaille gave her a reassuring nod and helped herself to some of the safer dishes, allowing Lily to emulate her, which she did with a grateful smile.
â€˜Will you be in Egypt long?â€™ asked Fatima, as Stafford sat next to her.
â€˜Amarna tomorrow, then Assiut the day after for an interview. Then off to the States.â€™
â€˜Youâ€™re packing an awful lot in to two days, arenâ€™t you?â€™
â€˜We were supposed to be here for the best part of a week,â€™ he shrugged. â€˜But then my agent got me on the morning shows. I could hardly turn that down, could I?â€™
â€˜No. I suppose not.â€™
â€˜Itâ€™s the only market, the States. If youâ€™re not big there, forget about it. Anyway, weâ€™re only filming a short section here. Weâ€™re coming back later in the year to film in â€¦â€™ He caught himself on the verge of his indiscretion, smiled as though sheâ€™d almost wheedled great secrets out of him. â€˜For the other sections of my programme.â€™
â€˜Your programme, yes. Wonâ€™t you tell me a little more about it?â€™
He took another swallow of wine as he considered this. â€˜Will you give me your word that you wonâ€™t repeat what I tell you?â€™
â€˜Of course. I wouldnâ€™t dream of telling anyone your theories, believe me.â€™
â€˜Because itâ€™s explosive, I assure you.â€™
â€˜It always is.â€™
Staffordâ€™s cheeks pinked, as though heâ€™d only just realized sheâ€™d been having a little sport with him. He lifted his chin high, giving himself a swan-neck for a moment. â€˜Very well, then,â€™ he said. He waited for silence to fall around the table, for them all to be still. Then he waited a little longer, building the suspense. An old storytellerâ€™s trick, yet effective all the same. When finally he had their complete attention, he leaned forward into the candlelight. â€˜I intend to prove that Akhenaten wasnâ€™t just another Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh,â€™ he said. â€˜I intend to prove he was also founder of modern Israel. Thatâ€™s right. I intend to prove beyond doubt or argument that Akhenaten was Moses, the man who led the Jews out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.â€™
Heads swivelled to see what had made the woman cry out. A shocked and frozen silence fell as they saw Knox crouching there in the baptismal bath, camera-phone in his hand. But it was Knox who acted first. He raced up the steps, dived headlong through the hole in the wall, crashed onto the passage floor outside.
â€˜Stop him!â€™ thundered Peterson. â€˜Bring him back!â€™
Up to his feet, sprinting through islands of lamplight, yells behind, Knox glanced around as an athletic young man, face contorted with the joy of duty, flung himself into a tackle, taking his legs. He went down hard, grazing his palm and elbow on the rough stone, wind punched from his lungs, but twisting around, throwing the young man off, up and away towards the atrium.
Griffin and one of the young men appeared in the doorway ahead, standing shoulder-to-shoulder to block his escape. No way could he fight past both of them. He reached down and yanked the electrical flex from the generator, plunging the passage into sudden darkness, then shoulder-charungingldeged Griffin flat onto his back, fought his way through his flailing arms into the atrium then up the steps. The two other young men were coming across, summoned by the commotion. Knox cut the other way, over a low ridge, running headlong until he crashed into the wire-mesh fence of the neighbouring power station.
He ran alongside it for a couple of hundred metres, trying...
â€˜Ah,â€™ sighed Fatima. â€˜Akhenaten as Moses. That old chestnut. I canâ€™t tell you how many first-year students of mine have come to the same conclusion.â€™
â€˜Perhaps for a very good reason,â€™ said Stafford tightly. â€˜Perhaps because itâ€™s true.â€™
â€˜And you have evidence to support such a bold claim, I assume?â€™
â€˜As it happens.â€™
â€˜Wonâ€™t you share it with us?â€™
Lily bowed her head and looked uncomfortably down at her plate. This wasnâ€™t the first time sheâ€™d been ringside when Stafford had launched into one of his lectures. She hated it, not least because it always seemed to be down to her to smooth things over once he was done.
â€˜Itâ€™s not so much that Iâ€™ve discovered anything new,â€™ he acknowledged. â€˜Itâ€™s just that no one else has put the pieces together in quite the right way before. After all, even you have to admit some link between Akhenaten and the Jews, if youâ€™re honest with yourself.â€™
â€˜What exactly do you mean by that?â€™
â€˜Everyone knows that Egyptologists have their heads buried in the sand when it comes to the Exodus. Itâ€™s too sensitive an issue for a Muslim country in this day and age. Iâ€™m not criticizing you for thisâ€”â€™
â€˜It sounds that way to me.â€™
â€˜Iâ€™m only saying I understand why youâ€™d look the other way.â€™
â€˜Quite a feat, what with my head already buried in the sand.â€™
â€˜You know what I mean.â€™
â€˜Yes,â€™ said Fatima. â€˜You believe Iâ€™d distort the archaeological record for personal convenience or professional advancement.â€™
â€˜Forgive us,â€™ said Lily hurriedly. â€˜Charles didnâ€™t mean that. Did you, Charles?â€™
â€˜Of course not,â€™ said Stafford. â€˜I was talking about the establishment in general. So-called Egypt experts who refuse even to consider that the Bible might have light to shed upon Egyptian history.â€™
â€˜Which people are these?â€™ asked Fatima. â€˜Iâ€™ve never met any.â€™
â€˜I donâ€™t suggest for a moment that the Bible is strictly factual,â€™ continued Stafford. â€˜But clearly itâ€™s by far our best account of Judaismâ€™s origins. Who can doubt, for example, that a of Judaisslave population later known as the Jews were present in Egypt in large numbers sometime during the second millennium BC? And who can doubt that they came into conflict with their Egyptian masters and fled in a mass exodus, led by a man they called Moses? Or that they stormed and destroyed Jericho and other cities before settling in and around Jerusalem. Thatâ€™s the skeleton of what happened. Our job as historians is to flesh those bones out as best we can.â€™
â€˜Oh,â€™ said Fatima. â€˜Thatâ€™s our job, is it?â€™
â€˜Yes,â€™ said Stafford complacently. â€˜It is. And if we do, we straightaway encounter a problem. Because thereâ€™s no obvious Egyptian account of any such exodus. Of course, it wasnâ€™t anything like so significant for the Egyptians as for the Jews, just the flight of a group of slaves, so thatâ€™s understandable enough. And itâ€™s not as though weâ€™re completely without clues to work with. For example, Genesis credits Joseph with bringing the Hebrews to Egypt. And chariots are mentioned not once, not twice, but three times in Josephâ€™s story. But the Egyptians didnâ€™t have chariots before the Eighteenth Dynasty, so the Jews canâ€™t possibly even have arrived in Egypt before the mid sixteenth-century BC. And then thereâ€™s the Merneptah Stele, which records a victory over the tribe of Israel in Canaan, so the Exodus must have already taken place by the time it was inscribed, around 1225 BC. So now we have a bracket of dates: 1550â€“1225 BC. Or, to put it another way, sometime during the Eighteenth Dynasty. Agreed?â€™
â€˜Your logic appears impeccable,â€™ said Fatima.
â€˜Thank you,â€™ said Stafford. â€˜Now letâ€™s see if we canâ€™t narrow it down further. The Ptolemies commissioned a man called Manetho to write a history of Egypt. His King List still forms the basis for our understanding of the ancient dynastic structure.â€™
â€˜You donâ€™t say.â€™
â€˜Manetho was an Egyptian high priest, and he had access to the records of the Temple of Amun in Heliopolis. He identified a man called Osarseph as the biblical Moses. This Osarseph was high priest to a Pharaoh Amenhotep, and apparently he built up a following among outcasts and lepers. He became so powerful that the gods came to Amenhotep in a dream and ordered him to drive Osarseph from Egypt, but Osarseph drove out Amenhotep instead, establishing a thirteen-year reign before he was finally expelled. So. Not only do we have our independent confirmation of the Exodus, we also have a massive clue in our search for Moses. This man Osarseph. This Pharaoh Amenhotep.â€™
â€˜There were four Pharaoh Amenhoteps during the Eighteenth Dynasty. Which one do you suppose Manetho was referring to?â€™
â€˜He said that the pharaoh had a son called Ramesses. Ramesses was a Nineteenth Dynasty name, so Manetho was clearly referring to one of the later, not earlier, Amenhoteps.â€™
â€˜Ah. I see.â€™
â€˜Now, Osarsephâ€™s thirteen-year reign might appear to be a problem, because we have no other record of a Pharaoh Osarseph, or of any Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh ruling for thirteen years. But letâ€™s take a closer look at our various candidates. Ay or Horemheb, maybe. Neither was of royal birth, one being a vizier before he ascended the throne, the other a general. But Ay reigned just four years; and Horemhebâ€™s nineteen years were largely orthodox and prosperous. Smenkhkare lasted just a few months, while Tutankhamun was only a youngster when he died. None of them fit. But we have one possibilier wheposty left. Akhenaten. He succeeded his father Amenhotep III. And though he ruled for seventeen years in all, something extraordinary evidently happened during his fifth year. Not only did he change his name, he also founded his new capital city of Akhetaten, the place we know as Amarna, from where he ruled until 1332 BC. Thirteen forty-five to 1332. Tell me: how many years is that?â€™
â€˜Thirteen,â€™ said Fatima.
â€˜Exactly,â€™ nodded Stafford. â€˜So we have our match, superficially at least. But that raises other questions. For example, why would anyone consider Akhenaten an interloper? He was the legitimate pharaoh, after all. And, apart from Manethoâ€™s assertion, is there anything else to connect Akhenaten with Moses?â€™
Fatima spread her hands. â€˜Well? Arenâ€™t you going to put us out of our suspense?â€™
Knox crossed a low hummock of rock, glanced around. The pursuit was getting closer all the time. His breath was hard and hot, his stitch jabbing sharp. The moon slid behind a rare drift of nighttime cloud. He used the greater darkness to cut right, away from the fence, running almost blind. But then the moon reappeared and he saw plastic sheeting ahead. The cemetery. A cry went up behind him. He ran towards the irrigation channel, slithered down the bank, splashed wearily through the water at the foot, clambering up the other side, his shoes clotting with water and mud.
A pair of headlamps appeared to his right, one of the pick-ups. It accelerated down the lane towards him, doors flying open, two young men jumping out. Knox vaulted the gate near where heâ€™d parked, but there was no sign of Omar or the Jeep on the other side â€“ other than the tracks it had left in the earth, at least.
He juddered to a halt, hands on his knees, heaving for air, his thighs weighted down with lactic acid. Three young men arrived at the gate behind him, climbing it without great hurry, confident they had their man. The breeze pressed Knoxâ€™s soaking shirt against his skin. The chill of the night, coupled with apprehension, rippled a shiver right through him.
An old engine roared. Knox turned to see the Jeep bumping towards him, Omar at the wheel, its passenger door already flapping open. Knox ran to meet it, tumbled inside, slammed and locked the door even as his pursuers made a last effort to catch him, surrounding the Jeep, pounding on the windows, faces ugly with frustration as Omar swung the wheel around, crunching up through the gears as they jolted their escape across the field.
Peterson gripped his King James Version tight as he stared at the painted section of wall that had been drawn to his attention by Michael just before Knox had been discovered. The distilled water had cleaned off the thick coat of dirt, and revived the underlying pigments too, so that the mural glowed clearly: two men in white robes emerging from a cave, a figure in blue kneeling before them, a single line of text beneath.
Peterson had come late to languages, but his Greek was good enough for this, not least because the phrase had showed up in his nightmares this past decade, ever since heâ€™d first encountered the Carpocratians.
Son of David, have mercy on me.
The blood rushed from his head, leaving him so dizzy that he had to put a hand against the wall to steady himself.
Son of David, have mercy on me.
And Knox had had a camera! Of all people! Knox! A heavy dull thumping in his chest, like a distant steel-press. What had he done? He looked around. Everyone else had chased off after Knox, leaving him alone. That was something. He picked up a rock hammer and attacked the wall furiously, venting his rage and fear on it, hacking wildly at the plaster until it lay in dust and fragments on the floor. He leaned against the wall, breathing heavily, before sensing he had company. He turned to see Griffin staring horrified at him, at what heâ€™d done.
â€˜Well?â€™ demanded Peterson, turning defence into attack. â€˜Did you catch him?â€™
Griffin shook his head. â€˜Tawfiq was waiting in the fields.â€™
â€˜You let them get away? Donâ€™t you know what damage they can do?â€™
â€˜They canâ€™t get far. The only way out of those fields is by that old bridge. Nathanâ€™s gone to wait there.â€™